Eduardo Alberto Duhalde Maldonado was born 5 October 1941 in Zamora, in the province of Buenos Aires. He has two sisters, Aurora and Cristina, and his parents were Hijo de Tomas Duhalde and María Esther Maldonado. Eduardo received his early education at the local primary school; his secondary studies were undertaken at the Commercial Tomas Espora school in Temperley, which his own children would later attend. In 1970, he received a law degree from the University of Buenos Aires.
He married Hilda Beatriz González in July 1971; they have five children—Juliana (married with twins Bernardo and Franco Ferri), Analía, María Eva, Agustina, and Tomas.
Prior to entering political life, Duhalde was professor of economics at the University of Lomas de Zamora. In 1996, an unauthorized biography, El Otro (The Other), by investigative reporter Hernán López Echague, alleged that Duhalde had ties to drug trafficking, had engaged in vote-rigging, and had accumulated unexplainable personal wealth since 1984. Duhalde called the author a criminal and broke down in tears during a televised interview about the publication. In 2002 when he assumed the office of the presidency, Duhalde was considered one of the most powerful men in Argentine politics.